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against an isolation policy and called for a fighting alliance with some great military power. Other though less striking instances will be remembered; none of which, however, prepared the world political for Mr Balfour's letter advocating the institution by the State of Roman Catholic universities in Ireland.
When every other man in the Cabinet is hanged for overindulgence in personal ambition we may begin to suspect Mr Balfour of the weakness. The present belief about him on that score is that he would sooner retire to Whittinghame, and remain there, than play the pushful man in politics even for a day. But that makes the publication of his letter the more remarkable; reducing the explanation of it to a belief that it was a right and a politic thing to do. How many of his friends share that belief, either upon the hypothesis that his colleagues were agreed with him or that they were not? In the one case the presumption must be that the Cabinet, being willing after due consideration to provide Ireland with Roman Catholic universities, but at the same time doubting the popularity of such a scheme, commissioned one of their number to fly the proposal through the press as a suggestion of his own. When fully stated, that is the first hypothesis, and glaringly impossible. It is so impossible an innovation that it cannot be made to look more so, even by the unlikelihood that no member of the Government
could see the mistake of launching a scheme of that character in the midst of a furious Protestant agitation. The other supposition must be the right one; but though in some respects preferable, it is almost as hard to reconcile with the usual and expected. By a positive and even vehement expression of opinion, addressed to the country on a notoriously difficult and inflammatory question, a leading member of the Government forces his colleagues into a position which some of them think wrong, and all may find extremely awkward. Even they say so who wish well to Mr Balfour's proposal, which allows me the satisfaction of speaking farther in language not my own. is only by carrying out this proposal, says the 'Spectator,' "that the Government can now avoid serious trouble within its own body.
Mr Balfour has in effect told his con"In the strongest possible language stituents that an imperative duty rests upon those who are true Unionists and true Protestants to deal with the
claims of the Irish Roman Catholics tion." in regard to Irish university educa
But supposing that the Government "cannot in the end agree to deal with the problem, both Mr Balfour and the Cabinet will be placed four's exercise of the right of free in a terribly false position. Mr Balspeech on Catholic education must look like, and act as, an indictment of the. Cabinet as bad Unionists. . . A certain situation has been created
by his letter and his Manchester speeches. . . . He may have been rash; he may even have acted without due consideration for his colleagues; all we know is that by his recent action he has made it imperative for the Cabinet to deal with the
problem." "It is only by placing
Irish university education on a sound basis, and satisfying the demands of the majority of the Irish population, that the Government can now avoid serious trouble within its own body."
In short, the Government must either yield to "the situation created by Mr Balfour's letter" or break up.
When the question comes on for debate, it might be asked how it is that while the Roman Catholic community is spending vast sums of money in building cathedrals, chapels, conventual institutions, and the like in all the three kingdoms, it never seems to think of providing for itself the university that is so much wanted. The answer is, perhaps, that that is properly the business of the State. However, we are not now considering the intrinsic merits of Mr Balfour's plan. I have nothing to say about it, good or bad. Our present concern is with a totally different matter, and not a less important one, I think, if we have here another example of what is to be expected of ministerial Government in future. Were it not supplied by Mr Balfour, leader of the House of Commons, circumspect, considerate, no demagogue, no mere climbing politician, or if he were the first and only practitioner in this new line, little might be thought of it. But he is not the first. What he does he does after witnessing, and presumably pondering, similar performances; and being what he is, that he should follow suit in a manner so deliberate and in a matter so vexed, looks too much like a break-up of the old order in Cabinet government.
To what effect may be read in the words quoted above, which are of general as well as particular application. They show the natural working of the Cabinet system in dissolution, or (to speak in milder phrase) when dropping into habits of "greater freedom and less responsibility." The 'Spectator's' forecast of consequences on the present occasion may turn out to be exaggerated; but if so, it will be by good luck, for none of those consequences are forbidden by the nature of the case. It is entirely reasonable to expect them; and at another time, and by a less scrupulous Minister, they may be not merely risked but intended and ensured.
"DEAR MR LOOKER - ON,— This is to inform you, who may have commands for me, that I too came to town for the meeting of Parliament.
"The 'something in the atmosphere,' which in most places where men are assembled tells of any general predominant thought or emotion, is stronger in the House of Commons than anywhere else. You must have felt this. How the common feeling gets into the atmosphere, or how to explain the wordless communication of it to the stranger in the gallery, is beyond us, I suppose. But so it is. In a full House, and on occasions when attention is concentrated on a matter of extraordinary interest, the stranger is almost as conscious of the drift and shift of feeling
"Remembrance of this sharpened the wish to be present at the first meeting of a House which on one side had fallen to pieces and then had been entirely re-made up. That it would fall to pieces was revealed to many; that it did fall to pieces was known to all; that it had been brought together again was generally understood. But neither in my neighbours nor my newspapers could I find any sensible knowledge of how the re-make had been accomplished. Blinds were drawn down upon that subject-which seemed strange, but not unaccountable. There is lack of knowledge, and there is lack of acknowledgment-a state of feeling better known as a disposition to ignore.' We who have lived in affairs have learnt that such a feeling may be universal, and yet without any understanding to make it so. No man says to another, 'Let us keep this matter dark,' but darkness there is an unspoken agreement even between friend and friend to speak not of it. So it seemed to be in the matter of the ranching of the Liberals, who had gone wild and leaderless, and how it was done and by whom. All knew it, none spoke of it; but, thought I, in the House of Commons on the first night of meeting it is a silence that will speak for itself; and I'll be there to hear.
in the mass of silent members to the Speaker's left hand. as if it were a visible stream. Thence could I look down upon the unhappy remnant seated there-attenuate, futureless, their leaders falling out and falling away, their very principles a spoil to the enemy and yet not unhappy now. There was so little misery in the look of them, indeed, that my first thought, after contemplating them awhile, was of my cat basking in the unexpected sunshine of a winter day. If it was not hope that gave them that appearance (which could hardly be) it was relief. Sensible of being a coherent party again, now that they had two leaders the less, they were conscious of what had made them whole though it had left them weak; and it was a consciousness that filled the air about them in a speaking silence of complacency. in a horn of gunpowder may be separated by a paralysing intermixture of coal-dust, so these poor gentlemen had been divided from each other; but now, now they could come together again in working order, because that which divided them was withdrawn, dissolved, washed out. Home Rule might now be thrown off by the many with whom it was always a livery at best, and no longer was it essential to good Radicalism to play the Little Englander. A word had gone forth which, even though it sounded as the voice of 'personal proscription' to here one and there another (or so they said), was emancipation to thousands: a lightening of hearts, an easing of consciences, reconciliation with the master-spirit
"And I was fortune and a right honourable member giving me a place in the House with a commanding view of the benches
As the grains
of the country, and therewith a call to closer union among themselves.
"That it must have been all this seemed plain and certain even to such retired folk as your servant who now addresses you. If it lacked acknowledgment, we knew how naturally acknowledgment might be withheld. Yet that it could not be concealed wherever two or three erstwhile Gladstonians were gathered together might as easily be suspected; and gladly I found at Westminster, as I tell you, that it was not concealed because it could not be. It may last little longer than the sunshine of a winter day, but there it was— it would beam through. The lightened hearts and the eased consciences sang together as the stars sing in their courses, and I heard them: believe me or believe me not. But if you ask what audible or visible recognition there was of him whose word had brought this blessed change to pass, I am constrained to say that there seemed to me not much. But here also there were natural reasons for silence at presentprudential reasons, kindly reasons, and such as most fitly commend the saying De mortuis. It is something, too, that Lord R. (I name no names) shuns rather than seeks recognition, apparently. And then, again, and to conclude, gratitude for service rendered is so much more easily dissembled than joy in its receipt.
"Now it is not at all in my way to prate of politics, but these impressions taken in the
"From harmony to harmony. Music was the second great object of my visit to town— music and certain pictures; as to which a good judge and possessor of such treasures had written to me, 'If it would please you to view in one day the most exemplary display of masculine and feminine art that was ever looked upon in this world, come and see the Rembrandt collection in the morning and the Burne-Jones exhibition in the afternoon. The contrast is perfection and the lesson beyond price.' And so it was; and perhaps it is there still for willing minds to profit by. But for me it was both bad and good; for having a natural inveterate dislike of Sir Edward's pictures, a dislike which lies deeper (I know) than judgment ever reaches, and is even (I think) rather animal,—it was not well that this gentle if unreasonable passion should be warmed into hate. There is a sort of music that corresponds with the Rossetti and BurneJones picture, but no one ever said that it was great or even true; and in that fact I find some justification for the pre
judice (which, however, is not a musical or even artistic prejudice, but something else and something different) against both.
"It was a mistake to go from the Burne-Jones exhibition to an afternoon concert where the attraction was a player on the pianoforte. Only by rare good fortune could it be the soothing change required, and that should have been considered in time. But it was not, and the consequence was injustice not only to myself, but perhaps to the young man who was the attraction. Had it been necessary to hear him play that afternoon, so soon after leaving the New Gallery, the fair thing to him would have been an hour of preparation at at the Bath Club: a bracing douche, a mutton-chop, a glass of fortifying burgundy. In any event that could not have been harmful; for, let the performer be who or what he may, no concert-room Broadwood should be encountered by persons in an irritable or lapsing condition of the nervous system. Set wide open, and with a shock-haired young man advancing toward it with swinging hands, it immediately becomes more object of terror than delight. The machine we know: what is to be expected of those hands? The hall is large; in it are many, many ladies; two violins and a 'cello await the doom of the drowned; and the Attraction has yet to make an English reputation: how much, then, there is to fear! Yet it is possible to hope, for with skill, touch,' and restraint,
very pleasing music may be drawn from an instrument which in that form is the most brutal that genius has anything to do with. Does genius, or genius not in want of bread, ever write now for the concert
grand? Would genius ever have written for the pianoforte had it come into existence as the concert grand? If these are foolish questions, explain their folly by an ear that finds more soul in the drum than in the concert grand, when banged as no professor of the humbler instrument thumps out its truer voice of nature.
"With studied awkwardness, the shock-haired young man takes his place; the stringed instruments lead off, their lovely voices no more strained, no more conscious, than the perfume streaming from the rose, the brier-rose, and the violet; and it goes to my heart to mark how humbly the 'cello the 'cello, which hasn't its match in this world as a singing instrument-seems to wait upon the mechanical monster by which it is to be devoured. He begins, the distinguished Attraction, very playfully, very prettily; but not without the nimbleness which is one of the most admired and detestable characteristics of a performance on the concert grand. grand. Why, I cannot tell ; but it reminds me of the male opera-dancers who, in days that I remember, figured in the ballet in attire shaped like Harlequins, but cut low in the neck! (Is this an extravagant resemblance? Do you suppose it put into my head by the BurneJones collection?) It was some